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Former Basketball Wives cast member Tanya Young wrote a very compelling essay this week giving inside scoops on the show that everyone loves to hate.  Hailed as the New Jerry Springer, “Basketball Wives” has become an arena for angry black women to fulfill every negative stereotype known to man.  Since sex and violence both sell quite well, VH1 has worked overtime to make the women look as sexy as possible, all so they can rip each other’s weaves out and throw drinks in their enemies’ faces.

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“Basketball Wives” (which should actually be called “Basketball Baby Mama’s,” since most of these women were never married) was thoroughly undressed in Ms. Young’s essay. She explained how the company behind the show, Shed Media, often manipulated the women to get them to become violent toward one another.

“It (the environment) was both toxic and controlling,” said Young. “Women were not allowed to communicate after shooting a scene; women were chastised as if they were children; high-ranking executives would childishly ignore cast members on the set; and producers would “ice” cast members from working when they wanted to garner more outrageous conduct from them.”

Young goes on to talk about how the friendships were fake and producers would deliberately create hostilities between the women.

“Despite the “friendships” portrayed on the screen, some producers purposely planted seeds of discord between the women, and told outright lies, hoping that conflict and drama would ensue,” she said.

Based on Ms. Young’s description of what might be the worst show in America, it appears that the producers at Shed Media have taken the Michael Vick approach to television production.  When convincing dogs to fight one another to the death, you must kill any desire for peace between the animals.  You put them in a small, dirty cage, make them fight for food, and convince the animal that every other dog should be its enemy.  It the dog seeks out peace, you punish him until he is persuaded to fight.

The women of “Basketball Wives” are being trained to be violent in a manner no different from Michael Vick’s deadly pit bulls.  Any woman who shows an ounce of sophistication, discipline, kindness or intelligence is sent away so that the traumatized, hungry, vicious attack dog can join the show and increase ratings.  If the malicious woman becomes enlightened and sees the err of her ways, she’s “iced” until she decides to join the violence all over again.   So, similar to hip hop music, where ignorance rises to the top, “Basketball Wives” runs on a system that only selects black women willing to defame themselves in public.

It seems that their skewed presentation of black women is going to backfire on VH1.  A petition to take the show off the air has gained over 25,000 signatures, and major celebrities like Sherri Shepherd and Star Jones have publicly denounced the show.  The era of the violent basketball baby mama may soon be ushered to an end, so that we can hopefully bring in a regime in which black women teach young girls to behave like ladies and communicate with love and not war.  But sometimes you have to stand up to the bullies to create a better day.  Great black women like Tanya are the key to making this happen.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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